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How can I use visualization to reach my fitness goals?

When you picture your fitness successes, you are better able to achieve them because they become vivid and attainable. Go ahead, sit back and picture yourself as you want to be. Are you running in the park with your kids, dancing in that little black dress, or looking muscular and chiseled, posing in front of a mirror? Visualization is a powerful tool used by athletes and therapists alike. The best athletes in the world take time to visualize their performances. Top professionals like Steve Nash and Tiger Woods visualize making plays or hitting winning shots over and over again. This helps them prepare for game-time stresses, opportunities, and challenges that they may encounter during the course of competition. Mental imagery has also worked to help individuals quit smoking or overcome stressful and fearful situations. By seeing yourself controlling your urges or defeating fearful situations, you can safely defeat obstacles. For instance, salespeople often use visualization to help them control their fear of rejection. By "seeing" themselves bounce back from a disinterested potential buyer, they feel less threatened by the rejection, increasing their ability to overcome their fear and better handle objections in the future.

Psychologists say that visualization can increase performance and adherence to a goal by transferring mental practice to physical practice. Current research has shown that visualization creates an impression on the brain that simulates actual physical practice. While physical practice is still the best (i.e., if you want to get fit, you still need to eat better and work out), mental practice is better than nothing at all. In essence, training the brain helps to train the body.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.